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MATTOON -- Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation, in collaboration with Lake Land College, will provide a free day of dental care for Illinois children age 5 and younger on Saturday, Sept. 8, in Mattoon. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to make appointments by Thursday, Sept. 6.

During the event, children will receive free preventive and diagnostic services, including cleanings, exams, fluoride treatments, sealants and X-rays. Preventive education and referrals for additional dental care will also be provided. Free exams given at the event will satisfy the mandatory dental screening for kindergarten.

The event is part of Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation’s Dentist By 1 program, which aims to educate caregivers about the benefits of taking children to the dentist by age 1, as well as train dentists and oral health professionals to help expand access to care. Children in Illinois don’t see their family dentist, on average, until they are nearly 2 1/2 years old. Scheduling a dentist visit by age 1 allows the child and parent to establish a relationship with a dentist, which can help set the foundation for regular dental visits and oral health care habits.

“According to a recent statewide oral health assessment we conducted, about 22 percent of Illinois third graders have tooth decay,” said Lora Vitek, director of philanthropy and community relations, Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation. “Although preventable, tooth decay is one of the most prevalent diseases among children and can appear as soon as teeth emerge. Our "Dentist By 1" program works to prevent and eliminate this disease by educating caregivers on the importance of good dental habits, encouraging age 1 dental visits and providing free dental care to young children. We hope this program will have a positive effect on Illinois children and their families and will result in improved oral health throughout the state.”

The free day of dental care is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Lake Land College Dental Hygiene Clinic at 5001 Lake Land Blvd. in Mattoon. Dental visits without an appointment will be limited and available on a first come, first served basis. Parents and caregivers can schedule an appointment by visiting dentistby1.com/Mattoon, calling 630-718-4844, or emailing John O’Malley at JOMalley@deltadentalil.com.

During the community service event, Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation’s Tooth Wizard and PlaqueMan from the Land of Smiles oral health education program will interact with children and their caregivers, educating them about good oral health habits. Each child will also receive an oral health kit with floss, a toothbrush, toothpaste and a dental care instructional sheet in English and Spanish.

Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation Dentist By 1 events are supported by Crest/Oral-B  and Ultradent Products, Inc.

For more information about the Dentist By 1 program, visit dentistby1.com/Illinois.

Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation was formed in March 2008 by Delta Dental of Illinois, a not-for-profit dental service corporation with a mission to improve the oral health of the communities it serves. Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation is the 501(c)(3) charitable arm of Delta Dental of Illinois and works to support and improve the oral health of people in Illinois. In the past decade, combined efforts of Delta Dental of Illinois and Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation have provided more than $3 million to programs and organizations in Illinois that improve the oral health of the residents of Illinois.

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